*Editor's Note: This article was written before Joe Biden was selected as Barack Obama's Vice Presidential nominee. JoeBiden.com is now being redirected over to BarackObama.com. Take a look at "Republicans Miss Out Big for Sarah Palin in Online Marketing" on why this is important.
The next Presidential Candidate for 2008 that is getting a review of their online marketing efforts is Senator Joe Biden of Delaware. Much like Dennis Kucinich and Duncan Hunter (and a few other candidates), Biden must compete against his own pages on a .gov site. Not that this is a "bad" thing, but it can be a hindrance if the message you want to send is being usurped by a very powerful .gov site.
Unlike the previous two reviews, Senator Biden's campaign team seems to understand online marketing a little bit more. Not much, but it definitely is a step in the right direction. So lets take a look at what this campaign is doing.
Joe Biden Presidential Campaign Site: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Strategies
Probably one of my biggest annoyances with not just Biden's site but that of Kucinich, Obama, Richardson, and a few others is this Splash page nonsense. Usability wise, it sucks, it's one more click I have to navigate through to get to the information, for people who are new to the web, it makes them think they need to sign up in order to get to the candidate's "real pages". The problem with Biden's splash page, the only text on it is the "paid for..." text. There's not even a properly formed title tag on this page, there is a meta description, but it's the same description that's on every page throughout the site. So how is Google, Yahoo, Ask & Live coming up with the title tags and snippets they have, good question - does point to possible "hand tweaking" of the results in some engines (just a theory of course - I'm sure we could float many others out there), especially when Ask is showing this splash page's title as "Unite Out States" which is a value in a hidden input and that's "uniteourstates".
Moving onto the true "main page" of the site, we finally have a title tag and we actually do have some text. The first text that is shown is pulled from Joe Biden's blog, this shows up in Google's search results as the snippet for the page (it's shown as a separate entry when search for "Joe Biden"), Live search pulls the same, but isn't as up-to-date as Google. There are flash pieces, but these pieces hold videos, not content like on the Kucinich site, so much is not being lost in these areas.
I then looked around the rest of the site, and some of the pages have unique title tags, some do not. As stated before, the meta descriptions are all the same for the site. But most basic search engine optimization features are being utilized, such as the H1 tag. Looking at the "Meet Joe Biden" page, they even "get" the fact they shouldn't just call him "Joe" or refer to him as just "Biden", they've got both names throughout the content of the page.
Overall, the SEO isn't all that bad, it could use some tweaking to improve it, especially if they wanted to rank for more than just "Joe Biden". What about "Democrat for President" or "2008 Presidential Candidate", "Democrat Front Runners", "Against the War in Iraq" - all of these are potential key phrases that have a lot of searches that Biden's campaign has missed out on.
SEO Grade: B-
Joe Biden Presidential Campaign Site: Social Media Strategies
When it comes to Social Media, Joe Biden's definitely using it, and is even integrating it into his site. Not just with the widgets/button, but actually utilizing it to generate content on his site. What he displays prominently is Flickr, YouTube, Facebook, and MySpace. Most of these accounts reflect the style of the campaign, and are consistent with their messages when the social sites allow it. Biden also has an additional social media site he promotes, but only on his MySpace page, and that's a widget for the DNC's social site "Party Builder".
Joe Biden actually integrates his Flickr photo stream into his site. Using pictures from the photo stream to fill the "Photo Gallery" page on the campaign site. The Flickr profile is quite active as well, lots of sets with lots of new, updated pictures. You can scroll through the pictures either on the Photo Gallery page or on Flickr itself, this is a nice touch and something not a lot of candidates have thought to do.
If anything is really missing from Biden's social media efforts its working with and promoting "Event" social sites like Meetup, Eventful or Upcoming. These are great places that allow both fellow supporters and the candidates themselves to gather together, organize and show their support of the candidate. It also can give the candidate an idea of possible strong holds of voter support where they might not have ever known about.
Social Media Grade: A-
Joe Biden Presidential Campaign Site: PPC Strategies
There's no visible PPC strategies for the Biden campaign. Nothing is being done ad-wise for his name or for any of his opponents on the democrat side. I find this is a missed opportunity, especially for terms that go beyond just "Joe Biden" or misspellings of his name. Especially since the campaign website does need some work to rank for key word phrases beyond just his name. Biden isn't alone here, on both sides of the aisle, republican and democrat, many candidates are just leaving this opportunity on the table.
PPC Grade: F
Joe Biden Presidential Campaign Site: Blogging Strategies
Good news, Joe's got a blog. Even better news you can subscribe to it, it's just that you can't find an RSS button or link on the main page of the blog. There are RSS buttons on the main page of the campaign's site, and also links on the individual posts, but it would be helpful just to put a small RSS link or button on the blog's main page to boost up subscribers.
The blog is predominantly written by Erin Medlicott, whom I'm going to guess is part of the campaign team. There are posts from Katie Crozier, and a "Wes", but a links on to these names to who they are in relation to the campaign would be a help in understanding the perspective of the blog, since it appears that Joe Biden hasn't written too many posts (I couldn't find any before December).
The blog is very active with multiple posts each day. That's a lot! Compared to most other candidates, this is probably one of the most active political candidate blogs out there. The blog is also interactive, readers can comment, and a nice touch is that they actually "shout out" to readers and thank them for sending in articles they find about Joe Biden.
Where the blog lacks is in the social media promotion department. There are no social bookmarking, social news or StumbleUpon links to make it easy for readers to interact with those social sites to promote articles they think are great. The blog could also use some SEO tweaking as well. Overall though this is a good blog, and it definitely shows that they candidate has put some good hard work into its development.
Blogging Strategies Grade: A
Overall, SEO, Social Media, PPC and Blogging included, the campaign's marketing efforts are not all that bad. The one glaring sore spot is the PPC Strategies as the missed opportunity. Both the Social Media and the Blogging really carry this online marketing strategy, it would just be even better if they could complete it with a better SEO Strategy and do a little PPC.
Overall Grade: B